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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Our Own Ocean GetAway in Winter

Just finished reading A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy and was reminded of all the trips we made to the Maine coast when we were teaching. Every February and April vacation and summer break we would pack our suitcase the night before the last day of school. At the final bell, we'd go down the road to the elementary school, pick up our daughter and head right out for Old Orchard Beach. These were the perfect times to go--no one else or at least very few others were on that long stretch of sand. Our daughter would immediately run into the ocean--it did not matter that it was winter. She would splash around and it would be almost impossible to get her into the room where I'd put her into a warm shower and then cuddle with her under the covers to get her warm. It was hopeless to try to instill in her that fact that at those times of year it was actually dangerous to get so cold. As she got older she stayed in less time and get warm faster on her own but, still, she dashed in upon arrival. We all spent endless hours together or alone walking the beach, collecting sand dollars, primarily, although after a storm at sea and high waves I found a large fresh, though dead scallop, still in its pair of shells. I brought that back to share with my biology students and then cleaned it and kept the shell. As I write this I see it in the pantry window, as beautiful as ever. The best shell I have EVER found on an ocean beach on either coast or north or south. On the window above the kitchen sink is the miniature bell jar salt shaker filled with ocean polished shards of glass--no red, though I've searched forever. An old fashioned sugar shaker has small delicate spiral shells and bivalves bleached white from sandblasting waves and sun. And hanging on the wall is the tide clock with oyster shells that keeps me informed about when the beach is wider than the boardwalks at some tourist meccas or almost too narrow to walk without getting your feet wet. I remember the year in February when it was so cold I was amazed to see the foam at my toes was actually slushy --by the time I got back to tell my family the air had warmed enough that it was gone. They didn't believe me and I've never seen slushy salt water foam again. Usually there was little snow near the beach but one year it was blown up toward the wooden bridge so deeply that I sank to my thighs and had an almost impossible task to get out of it. I remember getting a bit panicky at the thought of not being found until I'd succumbed to hypothermia--lol We had a favorite restaurant--it is still there but has gone through several owners after the originals divorced and went their separate ways. It is not the same and, though probably just fine, in our minds it is not as good. I always had escargot, daughter had Caesar salad, garlic bread and Boston Cream Pie, though she eventually graduated to chicken wings but never outgrew BCP and hubby had broiled haddock. Such creatures of habit! Eventually, we retired and started to travel cross country, daughter grew up and went to college in Montana--which I never understood, since she is part sea mammal--so our annual rhythms changed and our visits to Maine became fewer and far more apart. We all became involved in exploring new places and thought Maine will always be there and we'd get back. We have gone back for long weekends but never the three of us together. She has gone with friends, I've gone with my sister, hubby and I have gone alone. It is just as wonderful just different. There have been no winter visits in a long time--we go to the Southwest now, she flies off to visit friends in various places on school vacation--she's followed in our footsteps and teaches now, too. This fall, though, I've asked to spend a week back at the beach for my 74th birthday. It falls on a Sunday so hubby and I will go up on the Wednesday before, daughter will come for the weekend, and we will return home the following Thursday morning. Not sure where we'll eat, but I think I'll find a place with escargot. The Cheese Iron has become a favorite sandwich place to get stuff to eat on the porch overlooking the ocean. There will be lots of beach walks and maybe I'll find another beautiful specimen to put on the window. For sure, I will come home refreshed and renewed with the rush of the ocean thrumming in these Irish blood vessels once more. I cannot wait

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